BOSNIA / 'I want the world to go in for Christ's sake and stop this - we can't go on watching'

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The Independent Online
AS PICTURES of Serb concentration camps shocked the world last August, we asked 16 prominent people: 'Should we send in troops?' Six said yes. Last week Emma Peacock went back to ask them if their views had changed.

RALPH STEADMAN cartoonist

(August: yes)

I want the world to go in there for Christ's sake and just stop this. If they had gone in when you asked me before, imagine the number of lives that would have been saved. It's awful to think you may be agreeing with Thatcher, but I really feel we can't go on watching this thing.

BILL BEAUMONT rugby player

(August: yes)

We should send some troops, but it's easy for me to say that - if you had a son in the army you'd think twice. I think it has to be done because the atrocities that are going on just have to stop.

TONY BENN

(August: no)

The United Nations cannot be a combatant, an arms supplier and a peacemaker at the same time. The decision on which role to choose should be for peace and humanitarian relief.

LORD HEALEY

(August: undecided)

I think the idea of intervening on one side in the civil war is mistaken. First of all, I don't think the arms embargo could be lifted without the agreement of Russia, and it's quite clear that Russia doesn't want to. Second, Lady Thatcher's argument that any side in a civil war that feels itself at a disadvantage has a right to get arms from abroad would apply equally to the Muslim community in Israel, and she doesn't seem to see that point, does she?

BERYL BAINBRIDGE novelist

(August: undecided)

I think we should send in the troops. The whole thing is utterly hypocritical, but at least Lady Thatcher showed a bit of passion. She actually got worked up about it. I think she probably did influence me.

MICHAEL FRAYN playwright

(August: no)

It seems to me very much a technical question of whether it could reasonably be done. I've seen various opinions put forward by military experts, but not by the commanders who would have to do it. If it could, I think we should intervene. The idea of arming the Bosnians is really a way of getting ourselves off the hook, of letting the conflict escalate without becoming involved.

DAVID LODGE novelist

(August: no)

I feel less certain of my position than I did when you asked me before. I share the sense of outrage that I suppose motivated Lady Thatcher. If military advice was that the problem was soluble by armed force, I would reluctantly support it, but my impression is that that is not the advice at the moment.

RICHARD HARRIES

Bishop of Oxford

(August: yes)

We should have intervened in former Yugoslavia about two years ago . . . at this stage it's so late, it's very difficult to see what can be done. We have humanitarian forces on the ground, and we know now that to put in troops would jeopardise that. My main concern at this late stage is that when this is over, we learn the lessons for the future. That means making sure that we do get a common political policy, and that we have an adequate force to back it.

MARJORIE THOMPSON

CND Chair

(August: humanitarian troops only)

I think that the arms embargo should be more rigorously enforced against Serbia rather than turning to the solution of putting another match on the fire, which I think lifting the arms embargo would do.

CLAIRE RAYNER writer

(August: no)

I would certainly support troops going in within a United Nations effort. We cannot have Serbs killing Muslims, and ethnic cleansing, the most disgusting phrase of all, has got to stop.

LORD TEBBIT

(August: undecided)

I maintained a great reluctance to commit British forces to a peace-making role until I knew precisely the objectives of such action, how it was expected to be acheived, and the manner in which troops would be be withdrawn when their role was completed, or was deemed to be incapable of completion. I am not persuaded that there is such a plan.

SHEILA MCKECHNIE

Director of Shelter

(August: yes)

I stick with my original view that on a humanitarian level I want military intervention as soon as possible to prevent further slaughter.

GITTA SERENY writer

(August: undecided)

I would go so far with Lady Thatcher in that one should not dismiss the possibility of military aid to the Bosnians. But I think our main effort still needs to be to exert pressure on the Russians to join us in exerting strict sanctions against the Serbs.

Lord Owen, the EC peace envoy, said in August that he favoured military action. He stands by that view, saying he wants to see Serbian supply lines cut by air attacks.

Mary Whitehouse, who in August favoured a purely humanitarian response, was unavailable for comment last week.

Sir Fitzroy Maclean, who in August said yes to military intervention, said the position was now too complex for a simple answer.

(Photographs omitted)

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